Religion and September 11th

R. Scott Appleby

John M. Regan Jr. Director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Professor of History at University of Notre Dame

Interviewed by Micaela Cayton Garrido, 2005

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

There's no question that 9/11 has heightened the awareness of religion. But because that was such a terrible tragedy, it has focused attention on the negative, the destructive, the adversarial role of religious activism in the world. It has provided the occasion for more general discussion of religion, so it has provided an opening for discussion on religious peacebuilding and religion and human rights. Often that discussion takes the unfortunate turn of saying the 9/11 attacks were not really about religion, or the suicide bomber is not religious, or the Jewish settler or the Christian militant. But, in fact, they are religious; it's that they take an expression of religion which is a particular interpretation of texts and traditions that legitimates violence. So, it's equally important to look at those militants - as I describe in the book Ambivalence of the Sacred - they are militants, who are active for peace, but they reject violence as the way to attain peace or attain justice. So there is a little bit of opening after 9/11 about religion in general, and it's a moment in which one can correct misperceptions and speak about the positive.